Is it Self-Care or Self-Sabotage? A Crucial Question for Anyone Trying to Lose or Maintain Weight
Is eating a piece of pastry or having a glass of wine self-care or self-sabotage? It depends on the underlying need or desire. Is it the need to self-soothe, comfort or self-medicate? Or is it the desire to celebrate life and enhance it?
So, basically there are two fundamental questions: “Is this treat (or snack) a life-enhancing activity or is it a behavior, which creates a negative spiral and enforces old negative patterns, resulting in guilt and shame?”
I don’t believe in “All or Nothing”, “Black and White”, “Good and Bad” thinking. Diets are obviously designed to create a split: You are either “good” by resisting treats and so-called comfort foods, or you are “bad” and consequently feeling like a failure or a hopeless case if you “fall off the wagon”.
I’d like to propose a third dimension or space, which I will call: “Good enough for now.” Sometimes the best we can do is to make a decision based on our energy levels, external demands, what’s in the fridge, eating at a restaurant or airport etc. Sometimes the best we can do is to go for the less than optimal choice, but it can still be good enough!
This is also a form of self-care because it gives us permission to be less than perfect. Mindful self-compassion remains to be the most useful, effective and powerful strategy when it comes to emotional eating. We can learn to trust ourselves by tuning in to not just our physical hunger, but also to our need for a quick (low-key) decision or solution, which will get us through… just for this moment. Self-care is multi-dimensional and complex - just as we are.
Self-Care Practice: Next time you notice a craving or an urge for a “treat” ask yourself: “Do I want this to celebrate and enhance a joyous moment?” or: “Do I want this to numb myself, take the edge off and deal with a difficult emotion?” If you want to celebrate, enjoy!
If you feel like numbing, use Dr. Kristin Neff’s self-compassion exercise. Place both hands over your heart. Silently say to yourself:
This is a moment of suffering.
Others have felt like this before.
May I be kind to myself in this moment.
May I give myself the love and compassion I need.
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